Gloversville Planning Board puts off decision on controversial apartment plan
GLOVERSVILLE The Gloversville Planning Board, overwhelmed with information from an emotional two-hour public hearing Tuesday, decided to deliberate up to 45 days on the $11 million, 48-unit apartment complex proposed by Kinderhook Development.
Kinderhook needs a special permit to construct the four-building “work force housing” complex on the hill above the dead ends of Lee Avenue and Northern Terrace.
Almost every resident of the cloistered neighborhood attended Tuesday, taking every seat in the Common Council chambers and spilling down the hallway. One after another spoke, complaining the complex will damage the character of the single-family neighborhood while exacerbating a groundwater problem that residents said caves in house foundations and the walls of in-ground swimming pools.
When the hearing concluded, board member Renato Sanges, the lone member expressing a desire to vote, said Kinderhook officials had failed to address environmental concerns or persuade him the complex would conform to the city’s 2003 comprehensive development plan.
Though members Michael Ioele and Wally Truesdell both said their questions about the project have not been satisfactorily answered and Truesdell said the complex should be located in the downtown area, Chairman Timothy Mattice advised the board to use the 45 days allotted by law to review all the testimony and written submissions.
Kinderhook Principal Donna Bonfardeci argued that the project does conform to the comprehensive plan as well as the city’s residential zoning and other restrictions.
She and her engineer insisted the drainage plan for the four-acre building site will actually reduce the neighborhood’s water problem.
Veteran city barber Joseph Paciolla, the first speaker, touched on an issue raised by many who followed — that the $11 million complex will pay only $36,000 in taxes.
Bonfardeci countered by pointing out that state tax law requires an apartment complex to pay taxes based on net income and not the value of buildings.
On that formula, she said the complex would pay only $29,000 a year in total taxes. Bonfardeci said she and her partners have offered to start paying $36,000 on a scale that increases yearly.
Paciolla and later Warren Greene asked for a show of hands against the project and almost everyone in the room responded.
Citing his failing in-ground pool and the $20,000 it cost to try to correct water flow in his yard, Jack Lunman said he fears the project will add to the underground water flow. “It just irritates me to no end that this housing development can go up there and create havoc on the neighborhood,” he said.
Lunman’s wife, Pam Lunman, said the apartment complex will affect the city’s ability to fill its existing apartment inventory.
School board member Sarah Pike raised a social issue, suggesting that tenants of the low-income housing complex may have special needs children who will burden the school district with additional costs.
David Henderson, executive director of the Fulton County Community Heritage Corp. — which is partnering on the project to make it eligible for a low-interest state housing loan program — said the complex would benefit the community. Henderson cautioned against speculating on the nature of tenants, insisting it is impossible and calling it a “slippery slope.”
It was unclear Tuesday whether the board will reach its decision at its May 4 meeting or handle the issue at a special meeting later in the month.